Edwina Attlee, a great shaking (the soft hands of autumn / the gloved hands of spring)


Tenement #12 / ISBN: 978-1-7393851-8-7
142pp / 140 x 216mm
Edited by Dominic Jaeckle
Designed and typeset by Traven T. Croves


See here for an excerpt, ℅ the Poetry Foundation.

A table can be overturned and a window can be smashed. However, those who believe that the state is also a thing or a fetish that can be overturned or smashed are sophists and believers in the Word. The state is a social relationship; a certain way of people relating to one another. It can be destroyed by creating new social relationships; i.e., by people relating to one another differently.

Gustav Landauer

Edwina Attlee’s debut collection, A great shaking, is a triptych of works—a gathering of songs, days, and hours—that detail the ways in which ‘a table can be overturned,’ an idea can be tilled, an hour can turn from something germinal to a quiet object of attention, an oblique artifact, a talisman for change. 

Gustav Landauer wrote that ‘the State is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, but is a condition’—something impacted by the weather of our moods, by the small winds of our behaviour, by way of human contact and a romance of interrelation. In these poems, Attlee antagonises our consent to be governed, our will to be moved (in terms either emotive, temporal, or meteorological) to consider our ‘condition.’ ‘I want to tell you about the time conversations started to happen / and how it was the beginning of the room,’ Attlee writes. Caught within an architecture wherein chance and design go bet on the horses, where we lose step with the gamble of a metaphor, Attlee segues her way through these collated hours and days to distil a poetry that is not about (or of) revolution, but about conditions. Hers is a poetry about steam; about diction; about how, to depict ‘the beginning of the room,’ you need question the porousness of its boundaries.

Selected from Tenement’s first open submission window by Lucy Mercer and Vanessa Onwuemezi, Attlee’s collection is divided into three parts. The first, ‘The Book of Days,’ is written to (and from) the months of a year [Condition № I, our calendar]. The second, ‘Nursery Songs,’ leans into a child’s language and its intuitions [Condition № II, our slow sophistication]. Third, and final, we’ve Archive Songs; a suite of experiments in appropriation and found text [Condition № III, our age of excess and privation].

Wheeling between voices and buildings—animals and animus alike—Attlee writes with a crow-like conviction to the tune that every conviction is liable to shift and change. To better consider the ‘beginning of the room,’ here we’ve a struggle, at the site of the speaking self, as to what it means to speak in a world warped by the weft of conditionality.

See here for a further word on this title.

100 first editions will carry a cover sticker as adornment; the Limbourg Brothers depiction of the ‘Anatomical, Zodiac Man,’ as excerpted from the Très Riches Heures (circa 1412 to 1416).

Edwina Attlee is the author of two pamphlets, Roasting Baby (if a leaf falls press, 2016) and the cream (Clinic, 2016). She teaches history to students of architecture in London.